Labor's $1.8 billion pledge to boost regional schools
LABOR leader Bill Shorten is hoping a $1.8 billion funding injection to regional schools will bridge a growing divide between country students and their city counterparts.
But in announcing the budget boost, which includes an additional $35 million for Capricornia alone, Mr Shorten pitted the party firmly against the Nationals.
The traditional representative of regional electorates was the target of Mr Shorten's funding announcement and declaration that Labor was now "the party of regional Australia".
Mr Shorten was joined by wife Chloe, shadow education minister Kate Ellis and Labor candidate for Capricornia Leisa Neaton for the announcement at Frenchville State School.
"We understand that for too long, schools and children in regional Australia have suffered an educational divide from the kids in the big cities and we intend to end this once and for all," Mr Shorten said.
The gap was also revealed in Australian Bureau of Statistics showing people living in regional areas were less likely to study at a tertiary level than those from capital cities.
"The best thing any government can do is back up the parents of Australia by making sure the children of Australia get the best education we can possibly provide them," Mr Shorten said.
Ms Ellis said students outside capital cities paid the price for inequality in education funding.
"We know that students in regional schools can be up to a year behind their city counterparts when it comes to English and when it comes to maths," she said.
"Sadly, the figures are even worse when you look at remote schools where students can be two years behind."
Ms Ellis said the National Party had in the past stated just how important education funding was to the regions, but had "sold out students" across Australia.
But Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the funding the Labor party were referring to was "never costed" and "never funded" prior to the last election.
"If it was never funded or costed, there was no way we could have cut it," she said.
Ms Landry said the LNP had supported Capricornia schools, citing $512 million in funding from 2014 to 2017.
She said education funding would be boosted by 27.5% across the state from 2018.
Ms Landry said the Labor party had to offer more than education funding for the region.
"Education is important, health is important, but there are a lot of other things out there too," she said.
"What is important is the economy.
"We need to build our economy, we need to get people into jobs and then the flow-on effects are that we have money for education, health, community groups."
Ms Landry also rejected claims Labor was the only party which would adequately represent the regions.
"I think we work hard for the community," she said.
"I certainly get out there and represent every sector of my community."